What says the 31 year old 17th Karmapa to Chinese control of Tsurphu Monastery?

A reader noted the following from their reading of “Living Buddhas speak up in politics in Tibet” which I submit here for your consideration as a test of the 31 year old 17th Karmapa’s claim that he is more than just the 7 year old Tibetan child whom the Chinese enthroned as successor to the 16th Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery as its first “Living Buddha” in 1992, 24 years ago.

“Padma Namgyel, vice chairman of the regional political advisory body, said the fact that many proposals have become realities has helped maintain religious stability in Tibet.
Many members of the advisory body proposed that more monasteries, for example, Tsurpu [!!], Drigung, Talung and Pashod monasteries, should be brought under state protection programs, said Namgyel…”

If the 31 year old 17th Karmapa is the legitimate successor to the 16th Karmapa he will speak out against Chinese control of Tsurphu Monastery.

If the 31 year old 17th Karmapa does not speak out against Chinese control of Tsurphu Monastery he is not the legitimate successor to the 16th Karmapa.

Let the fact that in 1959 the then 35 year old 16th Karmapa risked his life to escape Chinese control of Tsurphu Monastery be the measure of the 31 year old 17th Karmapa’s claim that he is more than just the 7 year old Tibetan child whom the Chinese enthroned as successor to the 16th Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery as its first “Living Buddha” in 1992, 24 years ago.

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In the Karma Kagyu is sitting meditation just for newbies and as such not necessary for more advanced practitioners?

My disciple doing sitting meditation and guru yoga this morning

A reader who has been reading my comments on the Internet going back to MySpace in 2006 had the following comment to share with the sangha in regards to the subject of habituating ourselves to that which has been pointed to us by our guru, the true nature of the mind, and the role of sitting meditation in the Karma Kagyu pedagogy today such as it is.

“If you can make something a habit through ritual, then it’s very easy to think you’ve mastered something. I think people like that instant gratification, that feeling of mastery. However, for a habit to be effective, there can’t be a deviation from the environment in which the habit was trained. I got up from the cushion one day and realized it really wasn’t going to help me.

My response.

“Thus the necessity of the guru in our practice to keep us honest.”

My earliest memory of deliberately sitting and watching my mind dates back to 7 year old me so I can’t imagine my ever not taking advantage of every opportunity in my life to do so.

To paraphrase my guru, 93 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, I get to stop doing as such only after I die.

This isn’t to say that it never gets old for 58 year old me, it does.

Thus the importance of my guru yoga, my internalization of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s presence in my mind stream that I have habituated myself in relying upon to keep me honest over the course of our 36 years together as guru and disciple.

50 year old me never would have survived the widow maker in 2009 as I did, I sat down, folded my legs, adjusted my posture as I have done since I was 7 years old, and put my life in Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s hands, visualizing Amitabha while reciting Om Mani Padme Hung, just as he instructed me to do when I asked him how to die, a preoccupation of mine since my 40 year old father died of a heart attack in 1972.

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The latest on China’s preparations for the 17th Karmapa’s return to Tsurphu 

I submit for your consideration from the Global Times “Living Buddhas speak up in politics in Tibet” as it pertains to the 17th Karmapa’s return to Tsurphu Monastery, specifically the role he was recognized as China’s first “living Buddha” in 1992 to fulfill, and that which in all honesty he is best suited for, a member of China’s Tibetan political ruling elite.


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As a Karma Kagyu lama I don’t do one size fits all Tibetan Buddhism 

I submit for your consideration the following from our discussion here of what to look for in a sangha as it pertains the post-Karmapa Karma Kagyu lineage of today in the United States, specifically.

I happily defer to Karma Kagyu elsewhere to speak of their experiences as it pertains to choosing a Karma Kagyu sangha in their country if they are so inclined, but I say this for the sake of providing a context for my comments here.

That being said I don’t know where the person whose comment follows here is from so I can’t speak to how it fits into our discussion as such but I thought it worth responding to nonetheless.

“Well Bill you missed my point that while Karmapa one chooses is very important it may not be the most important decision. The root lama the one who opens your mind the one who will guide you along the path is not likely to be either Karmapa. Unless one has amazing karma. Especially from the beginning. One needs someone you can be close to. This would be difficult in both cases. Regardless of the openness of one or the other as most of us western students don’t live or would not survive 6 months in Kalimpong or Tsurphu. The root lama has the hook and you have the ring. The teacher you are karmically connected too will be the right one. And to know this requires more than just luck. Traditionally the student checked the lama for three years and when the student asked the lama checked the student for another three years before giving really deep teachings. Locally this has changed but the root lama, is I think, slightly more important. This is why I can understand one who in spite of the overwhelming negative evidence still supports OTD. Their lama said that OTD was the Karmapa and they trust albeit blindly the lama.
QP”

Here’s my response to the above.

“I don’t do one size fits all Tibetan Buddhism.

My bad.

As a matter of principle I refuse to reference Tibetan tradition as you here do.

It isn’t relevant as far as I’m concerned.

You are welcome to do so here of course.

I welcome it.

I leave it to readers of this blog to decide for themselves what works for them as dharma practitioners.

What we have here in your comment is a perfect example of what I recommend people reading this avoid at all costs in a Karma Kagyu sangha.

The moment somebody gets in my face about Tibetan tradition I know I am speaking with the wrong person.

This person has nothing to offer me as a dharma practitioner.

I want to be speaking with someone that has something to offer me as a dharma practitioner.

22 year old me learned this from 29 year old Shamar Rinpoche in 1981 at a McDonald’s in Zion, Illinois.

If you find yourself with five hungry monks that just arrived from Rumtek Monastery to be with the 16th Karmapa and there is nothing to eat as I did that particular evening you do what you have to.

It would have been nice if the person responsible for meal preparation that evening had shown up but they didn’t.

22 year old me was at a loss as to what to do.

29 year old Shamar Rinpoche didn’t miss a beat.

The next thing I knew I was standing in line at McDonald’s in Zion, Illinois, with Shamar Rinpoche, Tibetan tradition be damned.

If you are with someone with something to offer you as a dharma practitioner everything you do with them points out for you the true nature of the mind as such.

Tibetan tradition has a role to play in deepening your realization of that which has been pointed out to you if the person that has pointed the true nature of the mind for you is Tibetan as was the case for me 36 years ago.

This is where Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche came in as such for me as a dharma practitioner.

Being a member of a sangha is a collaboration of equals as far I’m concerned.

Everyone has a different role to play in the process.

Without equality the process fails in my opinion.

Vajradhara is the only root guru you need concern yourself with if the person who pointed out the true nature of the mind for you is Karma Kagyu.

Whoever you believe to be the 17th Karmapa is thus seen by you to be Vajradhara, you relate to them as such, for better or for worse, never wavering in your belief that they are Vajradhara.

If you are so inclined to spending your life drilling down into this as I have I am confident you will not be disappointed with the result.

This is how I relate to Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa.

His Holiness never fails to challenge my realization of the true nature of the mind, just as Vajradhara did for Tilopa, the first of our kind to take on this particular challenge as a dharma practitioner.

This is the tradition I uphold as a lama, the 16th Karmapa’s Mahasiddha inspired crazy wisdom Karma Kagyu lineage.

No disrespect to the tradition you speak of here.

It simply isn’t what I bring to the discussion here.

Again, I leave it to the readers of this discussion to decide what works for them as dharma practitioners.

If someone wants to compare themselves to Tibetans as you suggest they do it is no skin off my nose.

To paraphrase Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche via Pema Chodron, my reading of their words, however you practice the dharma has a way of setting you straight in the process.”

For 22 year old me, and my generation of dharma practitioners, we approached 57 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and his generation of Tibetan exiles in our country at the time with a skepticism born from cutting our teeth as children on Watergate, “don’t trust anyone over thirty” were words to live by for us, which is why my meeting 29 year old Shamar Rinpoche had such an influence on 22 year old me.

His was the path not taken here in the United States if you were a disciple of Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche as I have been for the past 36 years, that being said, the wisdom Shamar Rinpoche shared with me in 1981 remains an important part of the dharma practitioner I am today.

Much has changed over my years as a dharma practitioner but this remains as relevant today as it was in 1981, what matters is not how Tibetans elsewhere practice the dharma is irrelevant to how we practice the dharma here.

How Tibetans practice the dharma has an obvious place in the process of how we practice the dharma here if your teacher is Tibetan, or a disciple of a Tibetan such as I am.

My daily practice, what I have done day in and day out for the past thirty six years is Tibetan in origin, but for the fact that I’m doing it not as a Tibetan but as I do it, which is ultimately unique to me personally, as Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche instructed me to do these practices over the course of our 36 years years together as guru and disciple.

I can’t emphasize this point enough here.

If you ever find yourself speaking to someone at a Karma Kagyu dharma center in the United States of America in 2017 and they are talking to you about Tibetan tradition in regards to your practice you are talking to the wrong person.

As a founding member of Chicago KTC I tell you that in even the best of sanghas there are the wrong people to associate with and the right people to associate with and whom you choose to associate yourself with is the most important decision a person new to a sangha can make in my opinion.

Anyway, the decision is yours, but these are my thoughts on the subject this morning, such as they are.

Say no to one size fits all Tibetan Buddhism and you will never regret having done so.

For better or for worse it is your practice, accept no substitute for what works for you in your practice.

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My advise for choosing a Karma Kagyu sangha in today’s post-Karmapa Kagyu lineage

I submit for your consideration the following comment posted here earlier which I would like to expand upon, if I may.

“Ryder, if someone is just starting out,should they choose the lineage of Karma Kagyu as headed by Ogyen Trinley Dorje or the one by Trinley Thaye Dorje. Does it make a difference? TTD seems to be more accessible and generally seems to be enjoying his life more than OTD who is always quite uptight. Though as a neophyte I don’t know whether such extraneous behaviour amounts to anything.”

My response.

“Before joining any Sangha, for anyone contemplating doing so in 2017, I recommend that you first have a practice to share with any Sangha you decide to become a member of.

How said Sangha responds to what you have done on your own is the best way to know whether it is right for you as a dharma practitioner.

Now regarding the Karmapa Controversy, as it pertains to your question, I have this to say on the subject for anyone considering a sangha exclusively representing the interests and agenda of Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa, I recommend that you don’t do so at this time.

There are no shortage of Sanghas for a Dharma practitioner to practice with here that do not require you to pledge allegiance to Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa.

Regarding other Karma Kagyu sanghas, those not requiring you to pledge your allegiance to Ogyen Trinley Dorje, for example, Yongey Mingyur Dorje sangha, I leave it to those that know these sanghas to comment here as they
see fit.

Regarding Karma Kagyu sanghas associated with the Tibetan tradition of succession which has the Shamarpa and Karmapa succeeding each other as they did in the earliest days of the lineage, whom as such associate themselves with Thaye Dorje as 17th Karmapa without requiring you to pledge your allegiance to him, and so on, I leave it to those that know these sanghas to comment here as they
see fit.

Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, I recommend that before even thinking of sharing your practice with others and becoming a member of any Sangha, given the abundance of information on how to practice available today to the public, do your due diligence first, determine for yourself what work for you and what doesn’t so that you can make an informed choice, based on how whatever Sangha you are interested in joining responds to what you have done on your own as a dharma practitioner.”

After responding to the above comment I noticed that the reader used the British spelling of “Behavior”, so I wish to apologize for my responsding as if the reader was asking about sanghas in the United States as I did.

In my defense I am more than a bit preoccupied this morning with the latest antics of Donald Trump on Twitter which I began my day with, Trump’s response to Civil Rights icon John Lewis questioning the legitimacy of his presidency, citing the role Russia played in his election, which brings us to the problem of the role China played in making Ogyen Trinley Dorje the 17th Karmapa, as it pertains to choosing to join his sangha in the United States today.

Like it or not, here in the United States ours is a post-Karmapa Karma Kagyu, a new era for us as dharma practitioners.

For us there is no question today whether or not the Chinese Government interfered with the selection of the 16th Karmapa’s successor.

All that is in question today is how best to respond to this interference.

Thus my reference to those Karma Kagyu sanghas that require a pledge of allegiance to Ogyen Trinley Dorje as 17th Karmapa.

Here in the United States the 17th Karmapa’s sangha is a dumpster fire to be avoided at all costs.

I know not what the situation is elsewhere.

Other than this I have nothing to add to my original comment.

Wherever you live it is my recommendation that you have a practice which you have established for yourself before sharing it with a prospective Sangha so that you can see how they respond to what you have accomplished on your own.

In my experience this will tell you everything you need to make an informed choice as to whether a sangha is right or wrong for you.

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Is three year retreat at Karme Ling for you?

I submit for your consideration a question posed earlier in the comment section here that I found interesting as a lama.

“I’d like to pose a question, if nobody cares to or has the balls to answer, no problem.

If I had the inclination to sit in a box for three years, three months and three days – like a chicken perching on an egg – what would hatch? I am concerned someone would consider egg sitting a spiritual attainment, creating another ego issue. Are the retreat instructions perhaps a metaphor? I enjoy metaphors.
If this act of incubation actually hatched great spiritual teachers, we should pay the chicken so to speak, and not the farmer.

You may or may not have another opinion, I’m interested.”

Here’s my response.

“In the Karma Kagyu lineage at least, the result, the realization of the true nature of the mind, is not a metaphor. We take the result, said realization, as the path. As such the purpose of the so called “traditional” retreat of which you speak, the three years, three months, three days spent in a box under the supervision of a retreat master is a form of pointing out the true nature of the mind, not to produce a result but instead to habituate oneself in the result, that which is empty, luminous, and capable of anything. Whether this so called tradition works or not is debatable of course, but I shall limit my response to the question asked, or at least my understanding of it.”

58 year old me, 25 years after then 68 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, my guru, entered retreat at Karme Ling, in Delhi, New York, I am so glad Rinpoche saw a lama in me, thus sparing me from having to prove myself to him to receive his lung and tri for Mahamudra.

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From LAT “Eat, pray, love the Communist Party” the consequences of China’s 1992 recognition of the 17th Karmapa

I submit for your consideration from the LA Times “Eat, pray, love the Chinese Communist Party” as it pertains to the consequences of the Chinese Government in 1992 first ever recognition of a “living” Buddha, today its 31 year old 17th Karmapa, leader of the Karma Kagyu of Tibetan Buddhism.

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China’s crack down on its people’s ability to pay KTD’s mortgage is the end of an era for us here 

I submit for your consideration the following editorial from the Globe and Mail, “The alarming crackdown on Chinese money” as it pertains to 92 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s, my guru’s, crowning achievement, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the 17th Karmapa’s monastic seat for North America in Woodstock, New York.

In 2008 60 year old Tenzin Chonyi, KTD’s President for life, in the midst of a real estate crash bet against the market and took out a multi-million dollar mortgage on the then plunging value of the property upon which the 17th Karmapa’s monastic seat is located based solely upon his expectation that what had up to this point in time been an uninterrupted flow of money from wealthy Chinese Buddhists would continue forever, or at least long enough for him to take credit for that which Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and Bardor Tulku Rinpoche dedicated their lives to building.

In 2017 the Chinese Government has put this cash flow in jeopardy and thus, thanks to Tenzin Chonyi’s gambling away the future of the 17th Karmapa’s monastic seat in North America, 92 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche’s, my guru’s, crowning achievement is also at risk by what he did, just as then 59 year old Bardor Tulku Rinpoche feared it would at the time.

That being said, in 2008 the then 23 year old 17th Karmapa sided with Tenzin Chonyi, and the rest is history. Which brings us to China’s crackdown on the ability of its people, the wealthy Chinese Buddhists whom have hitherto paid KTD’s monthly mortgage payment, to continue to do so, the end of an era for us all. At 58 years of age I can remember when we had to pass the hat around to keep Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche and Bardor Tulku Rinpoche out of the poor house but for many of us all they have known has been Tenzin Chonyi’s KTD, a multi-million dollar real estate development funded entirely by wealthy Chinese Buddhists whom support their Government’s project of making China the leader of the Buddhist world it is today.

For the foreseeable future it is going to be much more difficult for wealthy Chinese Buddhists whom support their Government’s 31 year old “living” Buddha, the 17th Karmapa, and his monastic seat in North America to covert their wealth into US currency to pay KTD’s monthly mortgage payment, a new era for us all regardless of what you think of the place. It’s days are numbered if it can’t keep up its mortgage payments, an open question at this point in time.

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When the 57 year old 16th Karmapa passed into Parinirvana 36 years ago here in us he saw his lineage’s future 

Every Karmapa since the 5th has bent a knee to China with the sole exception of the 16th so it is understandable that a Chinese Government eager to put Mao’s rule behind it would want the Black Crown returned to Tsurphu Monastery and this moment in history was not lost on my 57 year old guru Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche after the 16th Karmapa passed away here 36 years ago in 1981.

The 16th Karmapa and my guru Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche were contemporaries, both born in 1924, which explains to 58 year old me how after the 16th Karmapa passed away here in 1981 57 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche assumed the role he chose for himself in returning the Black Crown to Tsurphu Monastery.

The first step in making this happen was the rebuilding of Tsurphu Monastery.
Along with 48 year old Thrangu Rinpoche, and 42 year old Akong Rinpoches, 57 year old Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche made this happen, doing the unthinkable to 23 year old me, find common cause with the Chinese Government, funded by members of the Chinese Buddhist community whom supported the economic reforms of 77 year old Deng Xiaoping, “to get rich is glorious, the rest being history, in 2017 a 17th Karmapa with his visit to Sikkim later this year one step closer to returning the Black Crown to Tsurphu Monastery, that which my 92 year old guru set out to do 36 years ago in 1981 after the 57 year old 16th Karmapa passed into Parinirvana here, where he saw his lineage’s future, not in China but in the West.

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Since the Emperor Yung Lo gifted the Black Crown to Dezhin Shegpa, the 26 year old fifth Karmapa in 1409, China has been its home

In 1999 the 14 year old 17th Karmapa was to be sent to Beijing to continue his education.

We have this from the 14 year old 17th Karmapa himself.

Or instead do what he did, also according to the 14 year old Karmapa himself, which was leave for India with the intention to someday return to Tsurphu with the Black Crown, an offer which the Chinese Government could not refuse to take him up on.

Thus in 1999 the Chinese Government did allow the 14 year old Karmapa to leave for India where he has waited the past 18 years for the opportunity to return the Black Crown to Tsurphu ever since.

For 18 years the Chinese Government hasn’t had a negative word to say against the 17th Karmapa as such.

And for 18 years the 17th Karmapa has not once done anything that would warrant the Chinese Government to do so either.

As far as the Chinese Government is concerned the 17th Karmapa can do no wrong apparently.

Now if when the 31 year old 17th Karmapa visits Sikkim later this year the Chinese Government breaks off relations with India’s Government I will of course have been proven wrong.

My bad.

We shall see one way or the other later this year.

I can hardly wait.

To this day the 17th Karmapa maintains that the decision to leave Tsurphu was his alone.

I agree.

That being said this does not preclude him from returning the Black Crown to Tsurphu as he told the Chinese Government he intended to do 18 years ago in exchange for it allowing him the opportunity do so.

There is no denying that the Chinese Government did let him go 18 years ago.

If the Chinese Government wanted the Indian Government to return the 14 year old 17th Karmapa 18 years ago, an unaccompanied minor, a Chinese citizen, smuggled into India by a third party, India would have had no legal basis to refuse such a request.

So there’s that to consider.

To say nothing of the argument to be made on the side of returning the Black Crown to Tsurphu where to those Tibetans in the Karma Kagyu sect, such as my 92 year old guru Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, believe to be its rightful place if the Gyalwa Karmapa is ever to be returned to his former glory as spiritual advisor to the rulers of China which the Black Hat has signified since the Emperor Yung Lo gifted it to Dezhin Shegpa, the 26 year old fifth Karmapa in 1409.p

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